The state's Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee was created via that stealth "extraordinary session" in January 2010, when state legislators passed the TN First to the Top Act enabling Governor Bredesen to submit TN's Race to the Top grant application.

Instruction to form the Committee and to define its duties was codified at TCA 49-1-302(d) and may be reviewed here.

Further details as to the Committee's work and a roster of its 15 members may be reviewed here. From among those 15, note that these were Bredesen's 9 appointees.

WRT these "test-less" teachers to have been a frequent topic of conversation locally, note that TCA 49-1-302(d)(A)(i) instructs the Committee as follows:

Thirty-five percent (35%) of the evaluation criteria shall be student achievement data based on student growth data as represented by the Tennessee Value-Added Assesment System (TVAAS), developed pursuant to part 6 of this chapter, or some other comparable measure of student growth, if no such TVAAS data is available.

Note that because the APEX model adopted locally employs two measures of "student growth data" (35% TVAAS and 15% "other student achievement") these TVAAS data ultimately comprise 25% of all teacher evaluation criteria in our local APEX model.

Also note that because codified instruction cited above does not specifically indicate that adherence to the TEAM evaluation model may not be waived by the Education Commissioner for any school, and because adherence to the TEAM evaluation model is not a statutory requiement itemized at TCA 49-13-105(b) detailing which statutory requirements of schools may not be waived for charter schools, it therefore appears that charter schools may appeal to the Education Commissioner for waivers of adherence to the TEAM model? Some states have already adopted such exemptions for charter schools, we know, and others planned to do so this legislative session?

Meanwhile, the TEAM website acknowledges that statewide and across all grades, 55% of all K-12 teachers lack any TVAAS data relating to the students they teach themselves--not 1/3 of all K-12 teachers, as many local teachers had estimated to me.

TEAM advises that for the current school year these teachers' evaluations will instead rely on available "school level" TVAAS data, while they arrive at some "comparable measure" to be applied to the formula in future years.

TEAM does not suggest what that "comparable measure" may be.

HB625/SB224 were passed 6/3/11 to terminate the TEAM Committee to have arrived at this model.

As to this spring's bipartisan legislative pushback to the TEAM model adopted, many bills were introduced to address the model's many problems.

HB3106/SB2881 addressed the vulnerability of "test-less" teachers, but died.

HB3049/SB2898 also addressed the vulnerability of "test-less" teachers and questioned the frequency of evaluation of teachers with more than 10 years service, but died.

HB2463/SB2276 addressed the vulnerability of teachers overseeing student teachers in their classrooms, but died.

Another bill which I can't immediately find again addressed the vulnerability of teachers WRT migratory students floating in and out of their classrooms. It would have established a set number of days a given student must have attended a given teacher's classroom before that student's TVAAS data may be applied to that teacher's TEAM/APEX evaluation model (status unknown until I find it again).

HB2299/SB2694 would have required "proof of attempts to improve the quality of instruction" on the part of teacher evaluators, but died.

Finally, HB2487/SB3518 would have allowed teachers statewide to evaluate the teacher evaluation model, but died.

It also would have instructed school principals to "determine and document the number of teacher retirements, dismissals, career changes, and severe medical conditions that have occurred in response to the implementation of the evaluation process required under TCA 49-1-302(d)," which data principals would report to their directors of schools, who in turn would report to their LEAs, who in turn would report to the Dept of Educ, who in turn would report to the general assembly.

See additional legislative proposals as to "what to do next" in comments.

GDrinnen2's picture

Tamara, I'm just curious.


I'm just curious. What is a "stealth" session?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


The January 2010 "extraordinary session," as the General Assembly itself referred to it, was "stealth" in that--

1) it was called in advance of the time the legislature was to convene,
2) there was virtually no news coverage concerning what the session was to cover (our Race to the Top app), and
3) legislators attending and being asked by Bredesen to enact the First to the Top legislation that would pave the way for our successful Race to the Top app were not allowed to read the grant app to which the legislation related.

Bredesen cited a need to keep the grant app's contents strictly confidential, lest a competing state snatch away our plans for themselves. If only...

Read previous KV conversaton on it here.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'm still sidetracked from reporting to you legislators' thoughts for "what to do next"...

To back up to this primary subject of how we got our APEX model locally, though, I said earlier:

WRT these "test-less" teachers to have been a frequent topic of conversation locally, note that TCA 49-1-302(d)(A)(i) instructs the Committee as follows:

Thirty-five percent (35%) of the evaluation criteria shall be student achievement data based on student growth data as represented by the Tennessee Value-Added Assesment System (TVAAS), developed pursuant to part 6 of this chapter, or some other comparable measure of student growth, if no such TVAAS data is available.

At TEAM's website, however, I found this:

Q: How will the 35% growth component be determined?

A: All educators who teach grades and subjects for which there is a state assessment will use their individual TVAAS teacher effect data for the 35% component.
For educators in non-tested areas, the Department of Education, in consultation with educators and evaluation experts, is working to provide subject-specific growth measures for non-TCAP subjects and grade levels. We anticipate that some non-tested areas will have measures available for the coming school year, and others for the 2012-13 school year. While additional assessments are under development and review, school-wide value-added (TVAAS) data will be used for the 35%. In all cases, we are committed to providing timely communication and information about the options.

It appears, then, that it was the state's Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee that adopted the TEAM model more reliant on TVAAS data than was actually required by the new statute.

It also appears that--since the Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee was disolved last summer--someone, somewhere is now hard at work creating "measures" of some sort for teachers lacking TVAAS data. Are these "measures" more standardized tests? And who is this "someone, somewhere" who's creating them?

Nor am I yet grasping who created our local APEX model.

Even school board members I've asked about this don't know where the APEX model originated. They say only that the model was presented to the board by Broad Resident Nakia Towns, KCS's new Director of Human Capital Strategy--who has an MBA from Duke University and work experience as a VP with Wachovia Bank and "associate in debt capital markets" for Bank of America.

But Randy, I did catch your reference on another thread to the effect you thought possibly the Gates-funded Battelle for Kids foundation had produced the local APEX model?

I also spent some time at their site, but with regard to teacher evaluation and/or strategic comp, I caught only this bullet point...

•Developing a comprehensive plan to launch strategic compensation in several large urban school districts, including designing recognition and reward models, professional development, communications, and technology solutions

...and when I clicked on the link therein, I got a "Page Not Found" error?

Did you possibly "find" such a page last night in your reading? Is this why you suggest BFK created APEX? Links???

Min's picture

Several members of the advisory committee...

...raised many of the issues that we have seen debated this past year during the development of the evaluation proces, but they were repeatedly told that they were only an "advisory" committee and that the DOE would make the final call. It was ultimately Commissioner Huffman who gave the go-ahead for the TEAM evaluation system, because Tennessee had sold its soul to get the RttT money and promised to deliver an standardized-testing-dependent evaluation system by July 1, 2011, that it simply couldn't deliver. So TPTB threw in a lot of unpiloted, illogical standardized testing BS, stuffed a square TAPP rubric into round hole, and pretended that, for 50-60% of teachers, the evaluation system wasn't a complete fiction. And before it was even finalized, the Republican-controlled General Assembly, just looking for an excuse to screw with tenure, tied tenure status and contract renewal to teacher performance under the evaluation system.

And Huffman, incompetent liar that he is, refused to acknowledge what a POS evaluation system had been foisted off on Tennessee teachers and administrators alike and kept saying that there were just "glitches" that need to be fixed. Fundamental design flaws are not glitches, and he's either too stupid or too duplicitous to admit it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


While waiting to hear more from Randy, here--finally--are some bills proposed in which legislators suggested "what to do next."

HB3306/SB3224 asked the Department of Education to recommend changes to TEAM, but died.

HB2448/SB2525 proposed establishing a new Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee--this time to specifically include 3 teachers who are TEA members (as legislation creating the original Committee did not specify TEA teachers) and also specified that Committee members must be evenly divided between political parties, but died.

And further, HB2001/SB1525 proposed changes to legislation creating the original Committee that presently require the Education Commissioner to remain on the Committee, even if he should leave/be removed from his post as EC, but died.

That last one seemed to indicate that even its Republican sponsors are irritated with Huffman...

R. Neal's picture

Tamara, on my way out, but

Tamara, on my way out, but here's some info:



(See "next steps" in above power point)

Alternative Compensation

Under the guidance and assistance of Battelle for Kids, a national non-profit organization that provides assistance for innovative school districts across America, we formulated an Alternative Compensation Steering Committee to design an Alternative Compensation plan that specifically met the academic needs of the Trousdale County School district.
Trousdale County is only one of four school districts in the state to be awarded the Innovation Acceleration grant along with Putman County, Lexington City, and Knox County.

R. Neal's picture

Also this: (link...)

Also this:


fischbobber's picture

8 million to Battelle for kids?

What is that?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Well, I think we have this figured out, now--and Randy's catching that Battelle for Kids mention was the missing piece.

--Bredesen pushed the First to the Top legislation in January 2010 on legislators who never got to read the grant app and were far too lacking as to the obligations it imposed on us. They passed the legislation, anyway.

--As to the obligation the legislation imposed on us to change our teacher evaluation model/teacher pay structure, Bredesen appointed 9 of 15 Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee members (none of them legislators).

--The other 6 members of the Committee (appointed by I-don't-know-who) included its only three legislators--Harry Brooks, Delores Gresham, and Mark Maddox, all of them Republican and all of them members of ALEC.

--Given that legislation introduced this session just ended included a bill proposing a "re-do" of the Committee to specifically include an even split by political party of Committee members who are also legislators AND at least three teachers who are TEA members, I'll make a reasoned guess that teachers to have served on the original Committee were not TEA members--or else not many of them were?

--The Committee then contracted with Battelle for Kids (funded by the Gates/Carnegie/Joyce Foundations) to help them develop the TEAM model.

--Per that subsection of 49-1-302 cited above, the Committee wasn't required by statute to link in the TEAM model the performance evaluations of that 55% of "test-less" teachers statewide to school-level TVAAS data, but they did anyway.

--Once the TEAM model was in place, KCS in turn also formed a committee and that committee also contracted with Battelle for Kids to develop its APEX model for local use.

Their "Battelle for Kids: An Overview" lit says they "have partnered with
educators in more than 19 states as well as the District of Columbia and Hong Kong

So yes, Randy, I completely agree with your characterization of Battelle for Kids as "the ALEC of public education."

GSD's picture

Wow, Tamara....

GREAT detective work!

It appears that Broad-trained superintendents serve as a sort of "advance party" to "prep the battlefield" for privatization in their respective school districts.

It's interesting that Broad's headhunting and placement agency ALSO shopped McIntyre to Wisconsin while they were selling him to us. We all know what Scott Walker has done up there. And with Haslam having been poised for the governorship of TN upon McIntyre's ultimate selection for Knoxville (lobbied for heavily by the Pilot corporation), it seems like these privatizers are rather adept at reading the political tea leaves.

They played their hand well in Tennessee, with Haslam in the Governor's mansion in Nashville, Huffman as the Ed Commissioner, and McIntyre doing his darndest to force through the Broad agenda in the eastern part of the state.

I think that what happens in Knox County with this budget will be pivotal to the survival of public education it was intended to be, at least in Knoxville.

It is a VERY scary time to be a teacher.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Looking at the Wiki entry listing states with which Battelle is working and cross-referencing it to that review I did recently of states operating either voucher programs or tuition tax credit programs, it looks like about half of states contracting with Battelle operate one or the other.

I guess that's significant, given that 12 of 50 states (24%) now operate one or both types of programs, but 4 of 9 states (44%) working with Battelle do?

Among Battelle's nine state clients, that's Ohio, Louisiana, and Oklahoma that operate voucher programs, while Pennsylvania and Oklahoma operate tution tax credit programs.

Louisiana, of course, is also the only state in the nation to operate a public school district comprised exclusively of charter schools, in New Orleans.

I don't like the company we're starting to keep...

fischbobber's picture

Here's what they say about finding the right people

Our Human Capital team partners with districts to design educator selection systems, career ladders, evaluation frameworks, and comprehensive performance-management models. We have helped develop stakeholder engagement strategies around human capital issues in districts across the country. We have also worked collaboratively with multi-stakeholder teams in more than 40 districts to develop and implement strategic compensation models—ensuring alignment to district educational-improvement goals. In addition, we have partnered with 21 school districts in southeast Ohio through the Ohio Appalachian Collaborative (OAC) to develop a comprehensive approach for transformational change and evolved human capital systems in rural education to accelerate college and career readiness for every child, leading to wealth creation and persistent prosperity for the entire region.

I think I'm going to think about the word "obtuse" for a while.

GSD's picture


sounds EXACTLY like something that our very own Jim McIntyre would say.

Where in the HELL do these talking points come from???

michael kaplan's picture

some of this must come from

some of this must come from administrator conferences.

GSD's picture

Relating this back to the budget....

In the name of "transparency" , I would SURE like to know EXACTLY how much taxpayer money McIntyre's administration intends to send to for-profit vendors such as Pearson and Battelle.

fischbobber's picture

That talking point

came from Batelle's website.

After I read it I stared at the screen and found myself asking,"Do whatttttt?????""

Tamara Shepherd's picture


It is a VERY scary time to be a teacher.

...or to be parenting a teacher-to-be.

jcgrim's picture

Persistent prosperity for disaster capitalists at public expense

"...leading to wealth creation and persistent prosperity for the entire region."

What a pile of BS. It should read: "Leading to wealth creation and persistent prosperity for mean, ignorant, arrogant third parties who extract tax money from poor kids' schools on the pretense of education reform."

McIntyre proposed a business plan not an education plan. By design his plan will destabilize communities by churning teachers, closing schools, and leaving communities hopeless. The public has a right to know that destroying public schools is a national trend, led by craven political and corporate opportunists- NOT educators.


The school board and the superintendent have no right to spend public money on statistical nonsense and make false claims as to it's efficacy (see my previous post on FAILED merit pay schemes.)

The Institute for Education Science (IES), the DoEd's research arm, shows 3 factors improve learning for children: lower class sizes, highly trained teachers (e.g., advanced degrees), and equality of resources.
Question every taxpayer and journalist should ask:
Why aren't McIntyre and his sycophants promoting proven education reforms?

Min's picture

That's an easy question to answer.

Because TPTB want to do to public schools what they did to public prisons--privatize the operation and redirect taxpayer dollars into for-profit pockets, while giving up accountability for the welfare of the most vulnerable people in government custody.

And I predict that privatized schools will be as big a national disgrace and boondoggle as privatized prisons.

GSD's picture


I have often thought the EXACT same thing myself.

R. Neal's picture

More corporate speak

KCS APEX Brochure...

More at the KCS APEX page (in case there hasn't been a link already).

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Eh, whatever. I'm not much interested in their suit-speak, one way or the other...

I'm interested in TCA 49-1-302(d)(A)(i), here:

Thirty-five percent (35%) of the evaluation criteria shall be student achievement data based on student growth data as represented by the Tennessee Value-Added Assesment System (TVAAS), developed pursuant to part 6 of this chapter, or some other comparable measure of student growth, if no such TVAAS data is available.

So, are you guys seeing this APEX fiasco as "fixable," or not?

Because it appears to me that it is.

IF, IF, IF my understanding of the statute is correct that the law doesn't require these "test-less" teachers (comprising 55% of all teachers) to hitch their wagons to someone else's standardized test score "star"--and Joe Jarret could certainly take a look at it to confirm--why in the world can't the school board simply call their employee McIntyre on the carpet for hoodwinking them and demand that he go back to the drawing board???

Can't KCS contract with CTAS or CBER or somebody to devise an evaluation method that actually makes sense?

Really, is there any reason whatsoever to allow Battelle for Kids to drive this particular aspect of fulfilling our grant obligation, if the law is on our side?

R. Neal's picture

Eh, whatever. I'm not much

Eh, whatever. I'm not much interested in their suit-speak, one way or the other.

It's legitimate to question diverting public education funds to an out-of-state "non-profit" to create compensation plans. Particularly when they are so obtuse. (Or maybe that's the point.) What does Knox Co. already pay administrators for? If they aren't qualified to come up with a compensation plan, maybe they should be replaced with somebody who can. And it would seem that a $500K communications shop should be able to produce adequate pretty graphics and brochures without paying consultants.

Anyway, good point on the law. File a lawsuit!

Up Goose Creek's picture

Evolved human capital systems

transformational change and evolved human capital systems in rural education to accelerate college and career readiness for every child, leading to wealth creation and persistent prosperity for the entire region.

Whoa, this is chilling. Yes I'd like to see our region lifted out of poverty but this seems like Brave new World or 1984 to me.

While I believe in the separation of church and state I must say, as a Christian, I find this kind of attitude contrary to my religion.

jcgrim's picture

Hoodwinked. That's an understatment!

The school board and KNS have fallen prey to snake-oil salesmen.

Battelle for Kids offers strategic communications support for "awareness-building."

Does the public know how much money in the budget plan will be funneled to Battelle if this statistical phrenology is adopted?

Who pays the lawsuits when teachers and children harmed by this nonsensical merit pay plan fails? As all scientific research shows merit pay will fail.

Min's picture

There won't be any lawsuits.

The whole point of merit pay, along with the Governor's stated purpose of eliminating the salary schedule, is to put teachers in the position of being paid whatever the hell school systems want to pay them on whatever basis of "merit" the school system dreams up (which should work out just fine for spouses of directors of schools and coaches). Under that kind of discretionary compensation scheme, teachers would have little basis, absent some actionable discrimination, for challenging the fairness or sufficiency of their salaries. Plus, the elimation of a salary schedule with steps generally means that salaries will trend downward, so there will be fewer dollars needed to pay the teachers that remain, especially after the governor makes it possible to max out class sizes.

And since the General Assembly has already repealed that pesky bargaining law, teachers have no collective power to negotiate fair salaries and benefits or the standards by which "merit" is determined. PECCA is a joke and offers teachers no platform for discussion of merit pay, since PECCA clearly excludes differentiated pay and incentive pay based on employee performance as subjects for collaborative conferencing. Plus, as Ron Ramsey so gleefully crowed after the 2010 session, no board has any obligation to engage in collaborative conferencing under PECCA, if it doesn't want to participate.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I didn't mean to imply that I'm not also put off with the corporatists' "suit-speak" (I am), just that I was mulling that legal question...

Even if some basis existed to file a lawsuit, tho, I couldn't file it. Since I'm not any teacher able to aver an injury relating to the evaluation tool, I'd lack standing.

I'm just trying to encourage school board members to fix it quickly.

So far, I haven't been very successful with that and I know that at least some of them are angry with me.

It doesn't make much sense to shoot the messenger, tho. I'm not the party to have "hoodwinked" them.

When they come around, they'll realize I'm actually on their side (but not Jim McIntyre's).

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I asked previously:

Can't KCS contract with CTAS or CBER or somebody to devise an evaluation method that actually makes sense?

Really, is there any reason whatsoever to allow Battelle for Kids to drive this particular aspect of fulfilling our grant obligation, if the law is on our side?

The answer to that first question appears to be "no," we can't use somebody like CTAS or CBER.

In searching the 264-page Race to the Top app for the word "Battelle," I do find the first of many references to them (on pdf page 40), which asserts:

In addition, Tennessee will work with organizations such as Battelle for Kids, a nationally recognized non-profit organization that provides strategic counsel and innovative solutions in the use of value-added data.

The answer to that second question, though--"must we allow Battelle for Kids to 'drive' this aspect of fulfilling our grant obligation"--is a bit less clear.

In fact, on having read both Battelle for Kids Strategic Comp lit and this portion of the RttT grant app, I can't tell whether it was Battelle for Kids to have "driven" these excessive teacher evaluation measures (i.e., linking "test-less" teachers' evaluations to the performance of other teachers' students OR conducting evaluations 4X annually rather than 1X annually, either one).

Having read every last word of the grant app relating to Section D, "Great Teachers and Leaders," which addresses plans for changed teacher and principal evaluations (pdf pages 76-118), I see that we asserted an intention to ultimately produce value-added data for "all educators."

I do not find, however, that we suggested what we would do to evaluate teachers during the interim, while those reams of additional tests are being created for "all educators," and I certainly do not find that we asserted our intention to tie one teacher's student test scores to another "test-less" teacher's financial future during this time.

And again, neither did the legislation passed in January 2010 (TCA 49-1-302(d)(A)(i), cited above) appear to instruct that we do so in the interim.

If the RrrT grant app didn't obligate us to that interim measure and the new law didn't obligate us to that interim measure, either, that seems to indicate that the suggestion for this interim measure, while these reams of new tests are in production, could have originated with the ALEC-loaded Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee OR Battelle for Kids OR just Huffman himself--but I can't yet tell with which.

Well, I haven't read all those Teacher Evaluation Advisory Committee minutes, nor regs at the DoE's site, so I guess that's next...

Tamara Shepherd's picture


And when are all these new standardized tests for Pre-K teachers, voc-ed teachers, and school librarians supposed to be ready, anyway???

(I'll have more questions when they are...)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


And when are all these new standardized tests for Pre-K teachers, voc-ed teachers, and school librarians supposed to be ready, anyway???

I found the answer to that question here.

For the 2012-2013 school year, it therefore appears that--even after reams of new assessments are rolled out--up to 25% of "test-less" teachers will continue to hitch their pay raise "wagons" to other teachers' students' standardized test "stars."

For the 2013-2014 school year, it therefore appears that--following implementation of all manner of gerrymandered testing mechanisms including "peer-reviewed portfolio assessment" of elementary school music students and showing kindergarten children how to color in the ellipses on their SAT10 answer sheets--up to 10% of "test-less" teachers will still have to...well, you know the rest.

Anyway, Huffman is calling it a plan.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I also learned today that it is, indeed, possible for school districts to "opt out" of the state's TEAM evaluation model.

That window of opportunity reopens annually.

To do so, school districts must notify the Education Commissioner by some date in April, then must have their new model in place by June 1 of that same year.

Whether through ignorance or intent, the Knox County Board of Education has missed its opportunity to make any change in evaluation model this year.

The catch, though, is that 1) any alternate evaluation model a school district may choose must be approved by Huffman, and 2) any alternate evaluation model's implementation and training costs must be covered by funding outside of the school district's RttT monies.

Among large urban districts, only Nashville is using this TEAM model.

Alternate evaluation models some districts have chosen include Project Coaches (Hamilton County and soon Bradley County), Tiger Aims (Maryville City, Lenoir City, and 12 other districts), and TEM Teacher Effectiveness Model (Memphis).

I don't yet know in what manner these teacher evaluation models differ as to their focus or their frequency, but I find it compelling that so many other TN school districts want to avoid the TEAM model so badly, they're willing to pay for alternatives from their scarce revenues outside of RttT monies.

Why aren't we?

rikki's picture

huffman schmuffman

1) any alternate evaluation model a school district may choose must be approved by Huffman

As a home-rule county, Knox could ignore and/or exempt itself from state attempts to micromanage its schools.

Barker's picture

home rule

Not so fast, Rikki. Remember, the supreme court ruled that the Knox County Charter's term limits provision does not extend to school board members because state law controls education. I would imagine - though I don't know the relevant code and case law - that the same court would rule state law is supreme in all K-12 education matters.

Apparently, Huffman has approved other school districts' use of alternate evaluations. Like Tamara, I don't know if the other methods are better than APEX, but it does show there is some flexibility.

rikki's picture

Actually, they ruled that

Actually, they ruled that term limits do not apply to the BOE because those offices are separately defined in the charter. Knox Co could impose term limits on the school board, but it would have to do so by amending Article VI.
The charter has this to say about the school system: "The exclusive management and control of the school system of Knox County (hereinafter referred to as the "School System") is vested in the Knox County Board of Education." Knox has the power to disregard or overrule Huffman. Granted, there may be complications related to the RTTT funding rules, but as a general principle, a home rule county needs no approval from the state for management decisions.

Barker's picture

you're wrong

The Jordan decision regarding school board members is based on the Education Improvement Act of 1991, not the charter (look up the decision). The supreme court explicitly stated that the Education Improvement Act prevents a charter county from restricting the terms of school board members.

In other words, home rule has limits, and one of those limits is the school system. Another is the court system.

rikki's picture

I was going to ask whether

I was going to ask whether that narrow ruling on term limits applies to this issue, but checking TCA reveals that just as Chapter 49 explicitly enables school board members to "succeed themselves," it also explicitly calls for employee evaluation methods to be approved by the state commissioner. So I guess telling Huffman we don't care what he thinks is not an option in this case.

(btw, I appreciate that you told me WHY I was wrong)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Hmm. I hadn't thought of that, nor phoned anyone in Shelby County (the state's only other home rule county), so you just might be right.

I hadn't realized until this week that, for having piloted this TAP program that was essentially the model for Tennessee's TEAM, Jim McIntyre is the most hated school administrator in the state among education associations.

They hiss his name.

Min's picture

Jim McIntyre only wishes he was hated as much... people in Memphis hate Kriner Cash.

The TAP model was shoe-horned into the TEAM evaluation program and is not a good fit, because the model is not being implemented as it was designed to be implemented. The TAP model is not intended to be used to rank teachers according to a 5-point scale, which ranking could then be used to justify disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal. The TAP model is a performance improvement model and involves the implementation of a rubric that identifies multiple teacher performance behaviors, not all of which are expected be seen every lesson. The rubric is supposed to be used to note both the teaching behaviors observed and the teaching behaviors not observed during a classroom observation, with the ultimate goal of identifying additional teaching behaviors that the teacher might implement in order to improve his/her performance. The philosophy underlying the TAP model is the belief that all teachers can improve performance by identifying and implementing effective teaching behaviors. And when the TAP rubric is used the way it was designed, it's a very good rubric.

The TAP personnel who were asked to do the initial training for TEAM repeatedly pointed out during the training that the rubric was not being used as it was intended to be used. Of course, that fact didn't stop the TAP people from cashing the check.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Memphis is jumping ahead in

Memphis is jumping ahead in our free fall off the cliff that TN lept from when they chose Huffman and Rhee as their coaches for socio-economic segregation. Get ready for a huge wave of TFA temps.

jcgrim's picture

Barker, the answer is "no"

"I don't know if the other methods are better than APEX

Correct answer: NO.

None of the other systems are better than TEAM. They are all equally bad. They use the SAME metrics, just slightly different behavior checklists. TEAM uses a 1-5 Likert scale and Tiger uses a 1-4 Likert scale. The APEX formula calculates these data and VAM scores into one meaningless score.
There is NO independent evidence that this statistical phrenology identifies effective teaching.

Further, there is little flexibility regarding the use of Value-Added scores (VAM= standard score) and the Likert scores (rank order score) to calculate teacher "value." The end product is exactly the same- only 15% of all teachers will be performing above expectations and 85% will not. Results? Churn and downward pressure on teacher salaries.

Educators KNOW how to improve schools. The business community in collusion with elected officials do not. APEX uses complex formulas to obscure from the public and dupe the school board into spending vast amount of education tax dollars to third-party snake-oil profiteers, like Battelle and TEAM/TAP, etc.


You can’t just measure what teachers do and slap a number on it.”

When will the authorities in New York City and Albany and Washington, D.C., and in state education departments across the nation recognize that they have created a monstrous, counterproductive and utterly harmful means of evaluating teachers? Are they wise enough to recognize the errors of their ways?

Barker's picture


So are you are saying there is no way to evaluate teacher performance?

Stick's picture

Let me...


Barker's picture


OK, then. Now propose what that evaluation would be based upon. I'm not being combative. On the contrary, I'm being open-minded in that I think a teacher evaluation system would be beneficial but I want a system that truly evaluates a teacher's effectiveness. So what model works?

Stick's picture

Here's a good introduction to

Here's a good introduction to two successful models:



Barker's picture


Have you tried to present these to the school board? You can post all you want on knoxviews or in the knoxnews comment sections, but getting it before the people who can make a decision is best.

Stick's picture

I'm Trying...

I've shared material w/ Indya [my rep] here on several occassions and I am forever engaging in the futile effort of sending this stuff to my state and federal representatives. I also work on policy and teach for a living.

Barker's picture


Advocacy is hard and takes a great deal of time. Whether I agree with you or not, I salute you for getting involved.

jcgrim's picture

There are many ways to evaluate teachers

Barker, You didn't read what I said.
The current evaluation systems chosen by non-educators (e.g., the lege, Huffman & the Nashville mogul class) are invalid, poorly designed, with unverified, non-peer reviewed data, that make false claims as to their efficacy(e.g., TEAM/TAP handbook graphs appear to be manipulated.) The claims made by Battelle, Milken, et al., are as valid as Sketchers shoes fraudulent advertising claims. If you don't believe me, take an assessment class so you can inform yourself about the appropriate meaning and use of test scores. There are MORE test types that measure performance that do not use standard scores.

Would you want your physician's performance evaluation designed by businessmen? If so, your physician would prescribe chemotherapy for you based on a few body temperature readings. That's the level of sensitivity in these TN eval tools.

Teachers want to be evaluated by competent peers and educators- NOT the business community or by profiteers who have never taught.

We're chasing a solution for a non-problem in public schools. The problem in TN is poverty, economic segregation, growing class sizes, and lack of school resources.

R. Neal's picture

The problem in TN is poverty,

The problem in TN is poverty, economic segregation

Bingo. How do you test teachers for that, much less hold them accountable for it?

Barker's picture

yes, i did

jcgrim, I did read what you wrote. I share some of the same concerns you do. My position is that it is not enough to trash the currently used model. Beyond that, it would be productive to advance other methods of teacher evaluation that would work better. Offer a model. Take that model to school board members. Fight for it.

Indya's picture

peer evaluators

Our budget proposal supports peer evaluation by adding more Lead Teachers. Lead teachers continue teaching, although with a lighter load when possible, but also take on a peer evaluator role, and we pay them for the extra work. After this year's experience we clearly need more people to handle this work.

Our budget also adds a lot of instructional coaches, teachers helping teachers, and coaches do not have any connection to evaluation, which teachers say they appreciate.

I'm very open to improving the evaluation model. More resources will help!

Barker's picture

Listen, Knox County is 37th

Listen, Knox County is 37th in the state in teacher pay. We pay our teachers as though all are mediocre. That's just not right. We have many outstanding teachers in Knox County and they need to be paid more. They are getting a 2 percent raise this year from the state, but that's not enough. We need to put more local dollars into teachers. Otherwise, the good ones will go to Maryville, Alcoa, Oak Ridge, Greeneville and other higher-paying school systems.

Now, we can argue about the best way to do that. We can argue that raising the base salary, as Nashville Mayor Karl Dean is proposing for his school district, is the way to go. Or we can opt for performance pay, as the school board is proposing. But the bottom line is that Knox County has to pay teachers better in order to attract and maintain good teachers.

The teacher compensation portion of the budget proposal doesn't kick in until year 2. If you are a proponent of across-the-board raises or an alternate merit pay plan or a combination of the two, I would suggest supporting the plan now and later lobbying for your position on the best way to distribute more money for teachers. If the school system proposal fails, there will be no pie to split and our teachers will continue to be paid less than their counterparts in Polk County.

Stick's picture

Look... there is a lot more

Look... there is a lot more to incentive structures than pay, and there is a lot of research on that very topic. Primer

Barker's picture

Yes, but

Of course there is more to incentive structures than pay. Otherwise, Knox County could only attract blithering idiots to teach in its schools. We have great teachers in Knox County despite the pay.

But let's be real. If you're a good teacher, and you're looking for a job, and (I'm pulling these numbers from the air because I'm too lazy right now to look them up) Knox County offers you $45,000 a year and Maryville offers you $55,000 a year, which job are you going to take? I mean, come on, teachers are teachers because they are true believers in education, but they're not stupid.

Barker's picture

not normal

I don't normally watch videos that people link to me, but I watched this. One point he made is that base salary has to be taken off the table when discussing incentives. Basically, he said that given an adequate base salary, incentives based on autonomy and other principles matter more than monetary incentives. OK. Then lobby the school board to devote the money they want to add to teacher pay to across-the-board increases. You've got a year before the additional pay is going to be distributed, and you can make your case to the powers that be. I just don't see how this is a deal killer.

Stick's picture

I'm not being clear. I think

I'm not being clear. I think that you're kind of trapped within the conventional wisdom of the day. One of the issues that we'll soon be facing is an exodus of experience from the system due to APEX or some other carrot and stick approach. What we need is a comprehensive approach for retaining the talented folks already in the system and attract new ones. I'm short on time, so let's do some back of the napkin figurin'...

I've been advocating using any additional money for lowering class sizes, creating space for professional development and collaboration among teachers, and providing the necessary supports to do so. This would improve working conditions considerably and would increase morale. [see autonomy, purpose, etc.]

Median household income in Tennessee is $41,461. If we're paying $45,000 AND we create an attractive, professional environment in which teachers are empowered and allowed to make the decisions for which they will be held accountable then I think we'd be able to attract the best and the brightest.

Barker's picture


You're being pretty clear. Reducing class sizes means hiring more teachers. I'm not opposed to that at all, but it won't help if we're hiring mediocre teachers to fill those spaces. And when Polk County pays more than Knox, then we don't get the best and brightest. Polk County does.

The increased compensation for teachers - as of now designated for merit pay - is a small part of the entire school system proposal. Without looking back at the numbers, it's something like $27 million over five years as part of a $175 million proposal.

Indya's picture

reading, keeping an open mind

Stick, Barker,

I'm following this thread as my time allows and will read the links. (I thought the article on Ontario's education policies was interesting, though I just skimmed it so far.)

I'm unwavering on the goal of providing highly effective educators to every student in every classroom. I'm open-minded on the hows and means, but know that more resources will help.


Stick's picture

That is why we're all very

That is why we're all very happy that you're here!

David Allen's picture



On your website you have a school budget FAQ. It refers to the budget as this year $384.67 million. I have also seen per pupil spending based on that number.

Can you explain this?


"The school system received around $384.67 million from the county last year. Once federal and state dollars are factored in, county finance department records show Knox County Schools spent $518.85 million."

Why are you and the BOE not disclosing the entire budget amount? That is $134.18 million more dollars you have than you have disclosed. It takes the per pupil spending from $6,994 a year to $9,433 a year.

You all have done a poor job disclosing basic information. You have over a half a billion dollar a year budget now. Why can't you get the job done with that much money?

I am very disappointed in the BOE and the school board for the financial lack of disclosure.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Offer a model. Take that model to school board members.

Scott: That was Jim McIntyre's job. Paid him over a quarter million--annually--to do it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Joan said: The problem in TN is poverty, economic segregation

Randy said: Bingo. How do you test teachers for that, much less hold them accountable for it?

After the WUOT taping last week, I walked back to my car with Mike Edwards.

I was talking to him about root causes of poverty here in Knox County and cited the recent system wide rezoning of high schools as an example of our trying to circumvent--rather than address--the root cause of our segregated high schools, namely our segregated neighborhoods.

He asked, "yeah, but what are ya gonna do about that?"

I answered "you're not gonna like it...," and began explaining to him how 32 municipalities nationally have begun segregating their schools AND their neighborhoods since adopting inclusionary housing ordinances that more even distribute affordable housing across the municipality.

He started shaking his head "no" before I finished my explanation.

I finally stopped midsentence and acknowledged that we are all already familiar with his attachment to "personal property rights."

He waved 'bye and rounded the corner...

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